3eaHomily for Mass – Third Sunday of Easter (Year A)

(Saint John Fisher Church, Tarragindi: Sunday 9:00am;  Mary Immaculate Church: Sunday 5:00pm)

4 May 2014

(Readings: Acts 2:14, 22-33; Ps 15; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Lk 24:13-35)

In the beginning of today’s Gospel we see two disciples who haven’t yet grasped what had happened in the whole “Jesus” event. Their mood is perhaps best summed up when they tell the “stranger” walking with them, “Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free.” Our own hope had been. The clear sense of that statement is that that hope is past tense. They had hoped for that … but they hadn’t seen its fulfilment. In fact, all they see are bits and pieces of the story – but they don’t “get” it. They leave Jerusalem – the Holy City – and they set off, alone, for their obscure village. They walk, and discuss all these things, with their failed hopes, their disappointments, and confusion.

It is suggested that we can see in this pair of disciples an image of those who have walked away from the Church; those who have lapsed from the faith, who “have given up on the power of the Church to bring us Jesus” (1). Those two disciples on the road to Emmaus were “scandalized by the failure of the Messiah in whom they had hoped and who now appeared utterly vanquished, humiliated, even after the third day” (1). In a similar way we know the fact of all those people “who leave the Church, who, under the illusion of alternative ideas, now think that the Church – their Jerusalem – can no longer offer them anything meaningful and important. So they set off on the road alone, with their disappointment. Perhaps the Church appeared [to them] too weak, perhaps too distant from their needs, perhaps too poor to respond to their concerns, perhaps too cold, perhaps too caught up with itself, perhaps a prisoner of its own rigid formulas, perhaps the world seems to have made the Church a relic of the past, unfit for new questions; perhaps the Church could speak to people in their infancy but not to those come of age” (1).

There are real risks for the Christian faith. If the faith is only superficially lived, then there is a danger that it only superficially embraces life, with the effect that the “experience of faith in the Crucified and Risen Jesus fails to illuminate the journey of life.” There is a danger that “today’s disciples of Jesus drift away from the Jerusalem of the Crucified and Risen One, no longer believing in the power and in the living presence of the Lord. The problem[s] of evil, sorrow and suffering, the problem of injustice and abuse … seem to attack what we are, [and] prompt Christians today to say sadly [like those disciples on the road to Emmaus], we [had] hoped that the Lord would deliver us from evil, from sorrow, from suffering, from fear, from injustice” (2), and it appears he hasn’t.

Those of us who remain in the Church are challenged by the Easter event to truly be witnesses of Christ’s death and resurrection. For those who have gone away sad and disillusioned, we must be convinced that Christ “is the only road that will lead to wholeness and salvation.” To reclaim souls for Christ we must “preach the truth in love” and live a sincere, authentic way of life (1).

Those two disciples on the way to Emmaus came alive because they allowed themselves to be taught by Jesus. This text can be an encouragement to us to listen to and to love the Word of God “so that it may warm our hearts and illumine our minds [and help] us to interpret the events of life and give them meaning” (2). After this, the story reminds us that “it is necessary to sit at table with the Lord, to share the banquet with him, so that his humble presence in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood may restore to us the gaze of faith, in order to see everything and everyone with God’s eyes, in the light of his love” (2). We are invited to “stay with Jesus who has stayed with us, assimilating his lifestyle, choosing with him the logic of communion with each other, of solidarity and of sharing” (2). We can begin to “stay with Jesus” when we prolong our visit to the church by sitting with Jesus in prayer before the tabernacle. We know Jesus in the “breaking of bread” – in the actual celebration of Mass – but we have that perpetual gift of his Eucharistic presence in the Sacred Host, always in the tabernacle, and sometimes exposed for our worship and adoration. He wants us to “stay with him” because He has truly chosen to stay with us.

The story of the Gospel today highlights to us the importance of the Word of God, the Eucharist, and our communion with each other in the Christian community. These elements are essential if we are to live the Christian faith at a meaningful level – if the faith is truly to give meaning to our lives; to provide an answer to the questions we have.

At the end of the gospel, after these two disciples have realized that they have seen the Risen Lord, they immediately returned to Jerusalem to witness to what has happened. They desired to strengthen the faith of the others who might have been confused and saddened like they had been. All of us who have known the presence of the Lord at times when perhaps we least expected – who have had experience of the Lord changing despair to hope, and sorrow to joy – we need to share that Good News with others – to give others hope and strength. We mustn’t be “gloomy Christians!” But rather, we must radiate our own experience of Christ bringing light into the midst of darkness.

May we always be Christians who testify by the way we live that Christ is alive – that He is with us – that he has won and will win over every sadness and suffering. May our whole lives proclaim that he is risen!

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(1) http://www.hprweb.com/2014/04/homilies-for-may-2014/
(2) http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2011/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20110508_mestre_en.html